Oysterhead is a new power trio with three familiar faces. Trey Anastasio (from Phish) on guitar, Les Claypool (from Primus) on bass and the revered Stewart Copeland (of Police fame) on drums. Sounds like the makings of a super-group almost?? Those two words put together usually spell disaster. Clashing egos and lofty musical goals that are never reached is the typical scenario with a 'super' group. Luckily, Oysterhead avoids the pitfalls and manage to gel as a band rather than three ego driven players. The results are funky, rocking and humorous.
Copeland is probably the most influential drummer of the 1980's. One of the few that achieved pop stardom and yet held onto to his credibility as a musician. He hadn't been behind a drum kit in years and years, but on the invitation of Claypool (probably around 1999), Copeland dug out an old kit from storage and agreed to the jam. He admitted that he was really rusty and as he played he got rustier. But there was an excitement there that Copeland liked. A few months later Les contacted him about playing a one off show with Anastasio. This show indeed took place and paved the way for Oysterhead as a group and eventually this album here.
Musically they had come a long way by the time they got to Trey's studio to make The Grand Pecking Order. Copeland's chops are fully regained and show a new maturity never seen before. Drummer friends of mine have been drooling over the return of Stewart and amazed at all the new sounds coming from him. Sounds never heard before.
Les and Trey are a perfect fit as well. They both come from bands that revel in humorous music so their pairing is a great one. You can sense the excitement on this CD. It's clear that Trey and Les are in awe of playing with one of their influences and in return it's clear Stewart is happy to finally have found a band that can let him play and forget about his former band which he had tried unsucessfully to reunite... He had tried to reunite the Police even as recently as 1999, but it just never materialized....."Sting is such a prick tease" he said.
The music is a great amalgam of each players bands sound. The low rumble of Les' bass is not unlike his work with Primus. Stewart is familiar and yet almost restrained. A Police-ish echo is there, but it's faint. And Trey's guitar is tasteful as ever. His use of loops that he started in the last few years with Phish surface here as well. In fact that's the first sound you hear on the CD!
Standout tracks are the giddy opener "Little Faces", the anthemic "Mr Oysterhead" (check out the Bootsy Collins bass tone homage on this track- great stuff!), the hooky "Oz Is Ever Floating", and "Army's On Ecstacy"- one of the most humorous lyrics on the CD, delivered with Les's wacky wit.
I will say a lot of this CD is similar, there is a uniform quality to it all that is a bit restrained considering who’s playing here. I am sure live they will really reach their jamming potential. Vocally it's more about humor than great singing, so don't look for vocal greatness here (although they aren't bad). It's more like a monotone delivery at times that aims to tickle you...
I suggest this one to fans of humorous music with a fat groove. Not prog, but far enough from the norm that a prog fan just might enjoy it anyway, if they aren't too uptight.
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